Most taste-expert programs are modeled, in some fashion, on the venerable wine sommelier certifications; none have deviated radically from these. The term “sommelier” technically means a “wine waiter” or “wine steward,” a restaurant position dating to 18th-century France. “My purist definition of a sommelier is someone who works in hospitality, who serves wine in a restaurant,” said David Wrigley, international development manager of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, a London-based accreditation organization. I spoke with Wrigley last summer in Washington at an event called SommCon. There, the WSET presented its program to potential students alongside three rival organizations: the Society of Wine Educators, the Institute of Masters of Wine, and the Court of Master Sommeliers, the last being the subject of the popular documentary “Somm” and sequels. All of these programs offer a ladder of advancing levels, from introductory through master, increasing in price and commitment. WSET Level 1, for example, begins at just under $400 for six hours of course study, rising to Level 4. Level 4 alone takes up to 18 months and 600 hours of study to complete and costs more than $4,000 — and that cost can easily double as thousands more are spent on travel and acquiring bottles to taste. The WSET’s enrollment in the United States grew by 24 percent in 2017-2018. It now has more than 14,000 students, and worldwide there are more than 94,000.

This was on my must do​ list for a while. Down in the area and did not want to fight traffic. Halloween night and they were closing early. Not crowded at all as we arrived around 5 pm​. The first​ impression was good as I am a bit knicked up and using a knee walker. One of the staff grabbed the door and they suggested a table out of the heavy traffic. A/C was cranking so bring a light coat. Steve was our waiter and he was knowledgeable​. Ordered up the bacon wrapped gorgonzola​ wrapped dates and they came out very quickly. The bacon was a little too charred to be flavorful and the cheese was not as warm I would have thought based on how charred the bacon​ was. I would love to taste it with well-cooked​ bacon and melty cheese. Also,​ order some shrimp and grits......big order enough for a ​meal and the highlight of the night. Ordered up fried chicken open faced club and a chicken caesar​ salad.​ The sandwich was a sight to behold and the batter was crunchy​ but really did not have any flavor that wowed me. The salad was a good portion but the caesar dressing lacked​ a little on garlic. It is the small things that make the experience and having the manager realize the bathroom door was not cooperating as I tried to navigate and helping me was very much appreciated. Overall​ I think this is a do-over​ maybe on a weekend night and a little later so they are on step when we order......I can see the potential for what others have written but I did not see it that night. Gets a one star bump for a great staff but they can't make up for the star of the show, the food, falling a little short. @Kodiak_kuisine
Hotel: a delicious word that conjures crisp sheets, sleeping in, vacation. "Brunch" is another sleep-in kind of word. And when the accommodations in question are as top-tier as the Grand Bohemian Hotel Orlando, then you know the brunch �" in this case a Jazz Brunch at its acclaimed Boheme restaurant �" is going to be something truly exceptional. Whether it's to linger in the last moments of your sumptuous weekend stay, in celebration of a special occasion or simply a decadent splurge, Sunday brunch at the Boheme will run you $45 per person ($15 for kids 6-12) and showcases all the hallmarks of high-end: a prime rib carving station, custom omelet station and fresh waffle station among them. Of course, brunch being what it is, it makes sense that you might want some snow crab legs, oysters or steamed shrimp to pair with that waffle. And did we mention the Kitchen Action Station, where seafood and meats are prepared to order? And that's not even the spread in its entirety. We're not sure how you'll save room for dessert, but we're sure you'll manage. Start strategizing now.

Thought chuck steak was just a meh budget cut of beef? It’s inexpensive for sure, but it’s a far cry from the stew meat you think it is. In fact, chuck steak—unbeknownst to many—boasts rich, meaty flavor akin to a ribeye, and can be just as tender. This easy recipe uses a technique known as a “reverse sear” to deliver perfectly cooked, tender chuck steak every time. The reverse sear is a great, approachable cooking method for those who want a deliciously salt-crusted, medium-rare steak, but don’t have a ton of experience preparing beef. Rather than searing the steak in a screaming-hot skillet on the stovetop and basting until you think it’s done and ready to rest, this hands-off trick entails cooking the steak in the oven until it reaches your desired degree of doneness (a meat thermometer is really helpful here) and then finishing it off with a quick sear just to get a nice, brown crust on the surface. This gentle cooking method not only removes guesswork for a less-experienced home cook, but also involves less intimidating popping and hissing skillet action. Served with a flavor packed chimichurri, this easy chuck steak is just begging to be layered onto charred corn tortillas for steak tacos.  

I am not ready to admit how effortlessly I attained this certification until, one evening, I find myself at Anxo Cidery, the epicenter of Washington’s cider scene, in Northwest D.C. Anxo required all of its front-of-house staff to become CCPs, and I am chatting with two bartenders about how I’ve passed the exam. They both also recently passed. “That exam was so easy,” one bartender tells me. “I took it when I was drunk.”

Make a big impression and give one of our gourmet gift baskets to the lucky host, newlyweds, or relatives. Packed with delicious gourmet food, our gift baskets are sure to please. Peruse our selection and pick out the one that fits the occasion best. So the next time you’re in a pinch, or just want to try something new and delicious, shop QVC for gourmet food, drinks, and more.


Clean, modern lines meld with Spanish sensibility �" colorful tiles and a convivial, festive vibe �" at this fountain-bedecked enclave in Winter Park, where deliciousness comes in many flavors, spanning salty meats to sugary churros and a range of succulent in-betweens. Diners here most often go tapas-style, choosing myriad plates from which all can partake, enjoy, discuss. That's not to say for a moment, however, that the large plates �" from steamy, seafood-laden paellas to succulent short ribs to Spanish-influenced pub burgers. Good stuff. Bulla, by the way, is pronounced "boo-ya," which is precisely what you might say when your teeth sink into its delicious, little cod fritters, or you take your first sip of Rioja on its airy, open patio.
When I visit Armenteros at the shop in Princeton, he guides me into the humidor, amid shelves of boxes and hundreds of cigars. “The most fulfilling, exciting thing we do,” he says, “is when you take a customer to another level. When you open up their enjoyment. That’s the greatest thing a tobacconist, or any sommelier, can do.” He talks excitedly about the differences among Nicaraguan, Dominican and Cuban tobacco, wrappers grown in Connecticut or Ecuador, the size or “ring gauge,” from skinny lancero to coronas to robustos to thick Churchills. A Padrón cigar, from Nicaragua, “is a steak, a wagyu.” Meanwhile, another cigar from the Dominican Republic “is like fish. It’s an elegant, delicate cigar.” We compare what spirits to pair with cigars, and both of us agree that describing flavors is not easy. “Not just in cigars,” he says, “but in any world of organoleptic delicacies.” He points to some cigars he’s been aging for close to a decade. I ask if cigars can age like wine. “F— yeah,” he says.
These programs prepare you to be a taste authority, a sensory expert, an arbiter and evangelist in the field, but you’re likely not producing anything. Even so, they’re in demand. What is it about this epoch that values such mastery over taste? Were we all truly so clueless and naive about these matters once upon a time? Has life become so fraught and complicated that even decisions over our smallest pleasures now require expert intervention?
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